After getting abruptly turned down by the boy she has a crush on, Sachiko thinks that nothing else bad can happen to her that day. Imagine her surprise when she finds out that her crush, Akihiko, is now going to be her new stepbrother! And that’s not the only surprise: Akihiko is hiding a different personality behind those glasses. Will Sachiko’s feelings for him cool now that she knows what he’s really like or is she doomed to fall for her new brother?
Four-Eyed Prince, vol. 1
Age Rating: Teen/13+
Del Rey Manga, August 2009, ISBN: 978-0-345-51624-4
192 pages, $10.99
Shojo fans are always looking for the next cute romance, but unfortunately this one isn’t it. Mizukami’s manga relies too heavily on Sachiko being a clueless idiot and even forgiving readers will have trouble believing that anyone can be that unaware. After Sachiko’s grandmother gets too old to care for her, she moves in with the mother who abandoned her years ago and finds out that Akihiko is also living there. He is her mother’s ex-husband’s son (which eliminates any creepy incest overtones the story might otherwise have). That night she sees Akihiko sneaking out of the house and follows him, ending up in a part of town she doesn’t know. She’s rescued by a cute young bartender named Akira, who is obviously Akihiko. Well, obvious to everyone except Sachiko. I guess it’s the Clark Kent syndrome–people look completely different with glasses. Except…they don’t, so the story is hard to swallow, which makes the romance hard to believe.
Adding to the romance problems is that Akihiko is a first-class jerk. He treats Sachiko poorly and she still falls for him. Since the bonus story which comprises the last quarter of the book is also about a jerky boy falling for a peppy, but clueless girl, I’m guessing that is just the type of story that Mizukami writes. Unfortunately reading about scene after scene of a girl dreaming about a boy who is horrible makes for dull reading. Mizukami tries to spice things up by offering a lot of "will-they-or-won’t-they" sexual teases and a third chapter storyline about partner swapping, but all they do is make the 13+ rating less appropriate than a 16+ rating would have been.
Mizukami’s art isn’t as bad as her plotting. Fans of Natsumi Ando’s enjoyable Kitchen Princess (also from Del Rey) will likely pick Four-Eyed Prince up because of the similarity in art styles: very large, beautifully detailed eyes, sharp chins, and tons of sparkly backgrounds. They’ll be disappointed, though, at the lack of character development and the weak, one-joke storylines. Pass on this one. There are better romance manga available.
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Del Rey Manga.